Work Velocity

The video piece Work Velocity depicts a steam engine governor, the part of the engine that regulates the speed. When the engine picks up speed, the heavy balls of the governor are forced outward, which slows the engine down, and in turn causing the balls to drop back down. The video is edited to show the the endless repetition of the balls of the governor slowly moving out, then back in again. This function, which once had profound importance, now serves as a demonstration. In the early mills, every machine would have been connected to one source of power through a series of connecting drive shafting and belt systems, the rate of production of every part of the manufacturing process was dependent on the speed of the engine. But the steam engine depicted in the video is now in a museum – the ‘work’ has become a commodity. The engine’s speeds controls no work, except possibly the artist’s, who tries to make it perform, making it slow down then speed up in order to get the shot, the ‘work’.